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How to Prep for Exterior Painting

This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and painting contractor Rich O'Neil show how to properly prepare a house for paint.

In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and painting contractor Rich O'Neil show how to properly prepare a house for paint.

Steps for prepping an exterior for paint

  1. Set up scaffolding for easy access to the house wall.
  2. Staple a plastic tarp to the lowest course of siding to catch paint chips.
  3. Don dust mask and safety glasses, then use a pull-style paint scraper to scrape loose paint from the siding. Tungsten-carbide-blade scrapers stay sharper longer, but steel-blade scrapers are cheaper and can easily be re-sharpened with a file.
  4. Always scrape in the direction of the wood grain to prevent damaging the siding.
  5. Remember to scrape paint from the lower lip (butt edge) of the siding, too.
  6. Remove any remaining paint with an electric random-orbit sander fitted with 24-grit disk. Connect the sander to a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
  7. Keep the sander moving at all times to avoid sanding a depression into the siding.
  8. Feather-sand the edges of sound, well-adhered paint down to bare wood.
  9. Sand rust from nail heads, then set and caulk the nail holes.
  10. Use a molding scraper to remove paint from convex shapes.
  11. Chemical strippers can be used to loosen paint from intricate moldings.
  12. An electric infrared paint stripper uses heat to release the paint's adhesion to the siding.
  13. Hold the infrared stripper in place for one minute, then immediately scrape off the softened paint.

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